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duskmaiden

duskmaiden
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Member since: 25.02.2003

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      14.11.2011 16:12
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      history of Battersea Dog and cat Home

      Us Brits are known internationally for being crazy about our kitties and even dottier about our doggies. We have a reputation for being a nation of pet lovers but is this really the case? Reading A Home of their Own" a history of the world famous Battersea Dog and Cat Home and its ups and downs throughout its 150 years of existence made me seriously ponder this question. PUPPYHOOD The home was founded in 1860 by Mary Tealby, a very unconventional lady for her time (she was separated from he husband at a time when that was a real scandal) not in Battersea but across the river Thames in a stable in a mews in Holloway north London. It as originally known by the very morally victorian sounding " Home for Abandoned And Starving Dogs". Tracing its history from these humble beginnings Jenkins takes us on a journey through the Home's interesting and varied history from legal and financial crises, a move to the Home's present site and various stages of expansion through two World Wars, depression and recession to a modern home in 21 chapters and 350 pages. This is a real gem of a book that would appeal to animals lovers, those interested in London's history and those generally interested in social history. I initially was attracted to the book due to its very cute cover. Who could reissue the drawing of a fluffy black and white bear cub of a pup poking out of the military like hate of one of the hone's keepers? I certainly could not. The cuteness continues inside especially on the chapter heading pages which show an adorable picture of one of the Home's many canine or feline residents looking big eyed and lost perhaps with a bandage round its paw. They are the type of photos that would melt the hearts of even the toughest blokes or Cruella Deville herself. I did wonder if the book could get a bit mawkish and at times resemble a literary version of "Animal hospital" or "Pet Rescue". For those that want that type of book Battersea do publish books dedicate to rescue animal's stories. Luckily for me Jenkins has nicely balanced the "aww "factor factor with a serious history that I found fascinating. I found the book extremely easy to read and the type of book I could not put down. Its popular history but rarely found it patronsisng. The books concentrates heavily on the earlier history of the home with half of the book being taken up by the first 5o years. These chapters are low on individual animal stories, focusing more on the early founders of the Home and themes such as the rise of philanthropy, animal rights and attitudes to animals in Victorian Britain. I was especially interested in the attitudes to vivisection as I thought it was much more of a modern issue but there was resistance to it even in the early days of the home with no animal being sold to anyone who may wish to experiment on animals. The book may cover things like rabies outbreaks which were frequent in the home's early history to more recently "the Dangerous Dogs Act" and the problems it has brought the home with unpredictable animals through to the cruelty and neglect which has always been a problem in the home but never sensationalises it or goes into too graphic detail. From the First World war onwards more individual stories about Battersea dogs do appear from those trained for military service, to thespian dog and more recently Red the escaping Lurcher. I did enjoy these stories especially when put in context with the changes in society from the problem of affording a new licence each year in the 1930s to the more recent a dog is for life campaigns with the rise in dogs arriving around about Christmas. More recently I heard on the radio the Hom is seeing a rise in admissions due to the rising cost of keeping a pet in today's recession. BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE The one thing I did find a bit dry was the ever constant expansion of the buildings and perhaps the home's finances. I know these are important to the development and the work of the home but they were the least interesting aspects to me. The book is nicely illustrated with three sections of photographs, sketches and newspaper articles which were very useful to cross reference with the text. I found these pictures very evocative in bringing the home's past to life and of course there are plenty of cute pictures of the home's former residents. The only thing that would have added to the book would have been a map or two of the different sites, especially as the street where the original home was no longer exists. I bought the paperback edition in Assda for about £4 though the recommenced price is £7.99. I am pleased to say all royalties go towards Battersea Dogs and Cats Home as every penny counts when it comes to charity. So are we a nation of pet lovers? I would like to think so as the appeal of this book and others like it is widespread. Look at the success of cute puppy and kittens calendars. However if we were truly a nation of animal lovers this book would not exist, nor would the home in its present form. In an ideal world the only residents would be dogs that needed to be re homed because of a tragic loss of an owner. Instead in the real world the Battersea kennels are still full to capacity. Hopefully there shall be little reason to write a second volume of this book.

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        07.11.2011 19:23
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        Trying to cater for everyone but not very well

        Garfunkels is a very strange beast of a restaurant. The restaurant masquerades as some sort of American Diner. Its speciality is that its does not specialise at all and is has something for everyone on their menu. The only problem is this produces very mediocre and at times over priced food. Its a chain that seems to congregate wherever there are tourists hence numerous branches in London's West End. There are at least three within a stones throw of Oxford Circus tube station.. They are nearly as prevalent as the ubiquitous Aberdeen Steak House, which seems to be on every corner around the Leicester Square and Piccadilly. There's also a few outlying ones on Gloucester Road, the O2, Bath and Edinburgh. Its the type of restaurant I have gone to in a group, as there's something or everyone and to be fair its good for kids. Before last week I would have given it three stars, that was until my last visit when I walked out in disgust and it was all over a humble bowl of nachos. My last visit was to the branch of Garfunkels just off Oxford Circus after a hard evening of shopping with a friend. It was a Tuesday, early evening about 730 pm and the restaurant seemed pretty busy. There were two other groups of two or three people waiting but we got seated fairly quickly within a few minutes. Then we were asked to leave our table by a waitress, as it was in the middle of the restaurant and they were expecting delivery. We thought this was strange as surely deliveries did not come at peak periods for custom. The waterless lead us all around the restaurant till she found us a table right next to the window. Don't expect a private conversation at Garfunkels, as the tables are packed in tightly. The phrase tin of sardines springs to mind. Think of something non gourmet you want to eat and if you are a carnivore Garfunkels will have it. Burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, curries, pizza and pasta. Pricers do vary. You can expect to pay from between £3.99 and £6.99 for an individual starter and about £9 for a sharer. Expect to pay £7 or £8 for a sandwich or wrap, and anything from £8 to £17 for a main course. All this for the type of food that you can bet is mass produced and just shoved in the oven or microwave. If you are canny there are times when you can get a reasonably priced meal at Garfunkels. The lunch deal is two courses for £8.75) whilst you can get two breakfasts for £10. . They do a pizza and pasta special in the evening which is about £6. The evening we were there the options were pepperoni pizza or arabbiata pasta which neither of us fancied. The kids menu for two courses and a drink is a steal at £5.79 and has a reasonable choice that does includes salad and pastas alongside the more traditional kids' menu fare. I did once dine with a friend who had children and to be fair the staff were very attentive and good with the children. Its a shame our staff were not so good on my last visits. The menu is meat heavy with grills and burgers but there is some choice for vegetarians including a roast vegetable wrap, omelettes, roast vegetable cous cous and a goats cheese burger. In the past I have gone for the roasted vegetable wrap that comes with chips. Its not a bad size and it tastes alight but nothing more than that but at £7.99 is one of the cheaper options on the menu. I feel that £10 for vegetable cous cous is pretty dire and I did not expect it to be much cop at all so . I did not even consider it. I was looking at the Spanish omelette but have a friend whose husband is Spanish and I can imagine the Garfunkels version would be inferior. I discounted the macaroni cheese at about £8.99 for the same reason as my mum's is the best in the world and even mine is not bad. In the end I decided to go for the nachos bowl "Supreme". This was under the sharing appetisers so I imagined this might be enough for a main course especially at £8.49. I was expecting a nice big platter of nachos not dissimilar to the large nachos at Wethrspoons. My friend ordered a cheese omelette and chips with a side of bread. We decided just to have water to drink, as it was about £2.50 fopr a fruit juice or J2O and around about £5 for a glass of wine. When ordering our food the waitress did check that I wanted nachos as a main and maybe I should have been warned and chose something different. We had a good wait of about 20 minutes or so before our meals came. My friend's came on a decent sized platter whilst I was bemused by mine. I had a shallow soup bowl of nachos with perhaps a handful of tortilla chips drizzled with runny artificial looking cheese sauce and soured cream and spring onions and scattered all over. You would have about four mouthful each if you were sharing this dish. My main bugbear was it was an absolute rip off for £8.49 Subway do a similar thing for about £2. I know Garfunkels have high rents and they are in a prime location but i just felt the size and quality of the portion for the price was just not acceptable. I would have expected a lot more chips and loads of melted cheese for my money. I was not a happy bunny. My first step was to ask the waitress to bring her supevisor over. Bad move this as the first one we encountered. When I complained that this was not worth near enough a tenner she replied its not £10 its £8.49"!. I complained I felt it was still a rip off. She called the manager and he offered to replace it with a different one. I was wondering if the second one would be that much bigger so decided to vote with my feet and go elsewhere where I would get value for money. I am not usually so stroppy and have never walked out of a restaurant before but I really did strongly about it. As we left there was quite a queue to get in so Garfunkels won't miss our custom much, as there are too man gullible tourists in London who will eat pay to eat at Garfunkels.

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          05.11.2011 01:13
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          toffee apple cider

          Autumn, "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" as the poet Keats once put it is one of my favourite seasons. Its a reel sensory season from the colours of the falling leaves to the feel of crunching them under foot and the smell of a bonfire to the bangs of the rockets Most of all I love the rich, dark flavours of autumn from treacle toffee to toffee apples and tablet (traditional sottish fudge like sweet). During autumn my tipple of choice is a thick dark porter or stout but sometimes i want something lighter and sweeter. On those occasions I go for "Brother's Toffee Apple Cider, which is particularity relevant as tomorrow is Bonfire Night. Brother's cider comes in a range of flavours from plain apple an pear to the summery strawberry and pear and tutti fruity but its the mellow autumn flavour of the toffee apple cider that I like best. It comes in 500 ml green glass bottles with a lovely coloured label that evokes all those wonderful autumnal colours and flavours I like the size of bottle as it is ideal for a long drink. At just under £2.0 its one of the cheaper new wave of ciders without being White Lightening cheap. I first came across it in my local corner shop last year but this year I have also found it in my local Tescos so it is fairly widely stocked. Cracking off the metal cap I am greeted with the hissing sound o the carbonated gas being expelled. I shove my nose into the top of the bottle to be rewarded with a wonderful top note of sweet burnt toffee aroma that fades to reveal the crisp apple scent. The cider pours well with just a a touch of fizzy head before it settles and dissolves. It's a lovely translucent gold coloured drink without a hint of cloudiness. It's lightly carbonated with just enough fizz to enjoy it but not too much for the drink to become too gassy. The cider 's fizz tingles a little on my tongue. At first I get a taste of sweet, honeyed apple juice with a hint of vanilla in the background. The flavour develops to get the deeper, darker burnt sugar taste of the toffee. Its quite pleasant, not too overpowering nor too artificial . It just gives a normal apple cider a little something extra. After the apple and toffee I feel the alcohol washing down my throat. At 4% its not too strong a cider but there's enough of kick there to remind you its an adult drink. Each bottle is 2 units of alcohol which is the sensible drinking limit for a woman whilst a man can get away with having a couple of these. Brother's Toffee Apple Cider is a very pleasant drink that's ideal if you want something light, sweet and a little bit different. I'm not sure if I could drink more than one bottle or two at the very most, as I think it could become a bit too cloying and sickly in large quantities. Make your fireworks night go with a bang by serving some Brother's Toffee Apple Cider.

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            31.10.2011 23:22
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            natural body scrub

            I like a little luxury in my life so was very pleased to receive a tub of Neal's Yard Remedies Orange and Geranium Body Scrub last Christmas. Neal's Yard Remedies are based in London's Covent Garden and are an extremely good option for those who care about what goes into their cosmetics. In a way they are a more traditional, middle class version of Lush, as they both produce natural, ethical products. Neal's Yard believe in using entirely (natural and organic where possible) ingredients that have not been tested on animals. The label on my pot of body scrub has a list of what is not in the product from silicone to synthetic fragrances and colours a mile long. Natural beauty does come at a price, as according to the Neal's Yard website this 200 gram tub of body scrub is £16.35 so for me a real luxury product. The body scrub is meant to refresh and smooth dull and dry skin. It is made from Dead Sea Salt and ground rice for exfolliating purposes, shea butter for moisturising purposes and of course geranium and orange oils. The geranium oil seems to be key here, as it has antiseptic healing properties to help prevent blemishes on the skin whilst the orange oil has an uplifting effect. The product is presented fairly simply and traditionally in a dark blue plastic pot with a screw top which is very easy to remove even in a shower. Inside the pot is a dark cream, light peach coloured light paste with darker brown flecks, which I assume are the ground rice. The smell is slightly floral. I can't really detect the orange at all. This is a real negative point for me, as I am far more a fan of citrus and fruity scents than the floral one of the geranium that dominates. Using the scrub is fairly easy. I tend to scoop a small dollop out of the tub and rub in damp skin. I tend to concentrate on the rougher areas of my body such as elbows, knees and sometimes do my back. You just need to massage it in using circular movements to really make the scrub work. It is a pretty firm paste that warms up and loosens on contact with the skin. It's got quite a gritty texture from the dead sea salt and the ground rice and I really feel that it works sloughing away the dead skin. Once its rubbed in, the skin has an almost waxy feel to it, which I attribute to the moisturising properties of the shea butter. My skin feels pretty smooth and soft. The one thing that I really do not like about the scrub is the gritty residue it leaves at the bottom of the shower once I have rinsed it off. I have been using this scrub on and off about once a fortnight for the past ten months and sill have a thin layer of it at the bottom of the tub. Although it does seem expensive it is extremely long lasting thus is not bad value for money. . I am really pleased I got this scrub as a present, as it does work but I'm not keen on he smell and it can make a mess of the bottom of your shower or bath.

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            • Vegeterian Percy Pigs / Sweets / 46 Readings / 43 Ratings
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              26.10.2011 16:21
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              Veggie pig shaped jelly sweets

              Marks and Spencer's have mad myself and other non-carnivores up and down the land very happy by introducing a new addition to their highly successful Percy Pig range. The Veggie Percy might be in the shape of a cute piggy face but unlike the standard Percy no oinkers are hurt in making them. . Pea protein may sound a weird and unappetisisng ingredient in a sweet but its used as an alternative to pork gelatin, as a gelling agent to give the sweet's texture. Opening the pea green packet I am greeted by a lovely, sweet strawberry smell. It reminds me a little of strawberry milkshake. There's about 20 Percys in the 170 gram packet. I think at £1.39 they may not be the cheapest sweets but they are no more expensive than other versions of Percy and I know they are good quality. Poor percy has got a green ear. Don't worry he's not got swine flu, nor has it gone septic. The green right ear is the way to identify a Veggie Percy from a normal one with two bubblegum pink ears. He's a cute fellow but I've got to eat him. The foam pale pink face is perhaps a little firmer than normal but the strawberry, fruity flavor is delicious. I violently rip one of Percy's ears off. The more translucent green and pink jelly that form his ears is more jelly like an and have a slightly different flavour. Its fruity but I'm not quite sure what it is. Perhaps there is a hint of grape in there. Apparently Percy contains apple, orange and elderberry juice from concentrates. There's also strawberry, cherry , grape and raspberry flavours which apparently are not artificial nor are the colours. . These would be better for children than other sweets littered with e numbers. A couple of these would a be a good treat for a dieter looking for a sweet treat, as there's only 25 calories in one Percy and literally no fat.. The only thing to watch out for is the sugar content. Each sweet makes up 4% of the recommenced sugar for an adult. Percy is not suitable for vegans as beeswax is used as a glazing agent, plus cows milk is used n the manufacturing process. I'd like to give a trotter up to Veggie Percy. Thank you again for three years devotion to develop this wonderful little fellow.

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                24.10.2011 16:55
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                nice smelling everyday bath foam

                I love a long soak in the bath. The only problem is I do not have one at home so always take advantage of my parent's when I am visiting them. The last time I was home I could not find any nice bubble bath to raid so nipped into town to get some. I wanted something that smelled nice, produced loads of bubbles but did not cost the earth so ended up with Boots Ingredients Mango and Orange Blossom Foam Bath. Boots Ingredients is a range I often use as it is reasonably priced, great for every day use without being cheap and nasty. At £1.35 for a 500 ml bottle I thought this foam bath was very reasonably priced. Looks wise its presented simply with its plain clear bottle but the picture of the slice of mango on the label looks very inviting. The liquid inside is a light tangerine orange. The label did not mention anything about animal testing , as far as i could see but on doing my research it seems Boots do not test use animals to test their products but chemical ingredients may have been tested on animals by the suppliers. So ita a very grey area how ethical this product is. On removing the lid I am greeted with a very pleasant, sweet but tangy mango scent with undertones of orange. It smells very natural and almost good enough to drink. The foam bath has a very nice consistency like a thin gel. It pours easily but is not too runny so I don not lose any when pouring and don't need to use too much at all. A small blob was all that was needed to create a lovely bath full of big fluffy bubbles to relax and immerse myself in. Think Kylie Minouge in her video for "I Should be So Lucky". I was impressed with the bubbles , as they were highly scented with that luscious fruity scent and lasted throughout my bath. When I drained the water the bath was still filled with a residue of the bubbles. I did not notice any difference in my skin after using the foam bath , however this was of little concern to me, as all I wanted was a nice smelling bubble bath that produced lost of bubbles and Boots Ingredients Mango and Orange Blossom Foam Bath ticked the boxes to a tee. I used the foam bath twice so the bottle is still more than three quarters full. I am looking forward to more bubble baths the next time I am at my parents as long as my mum has not used it all!!!!

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                  22.10.2011 16:51
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                  tasty oriental food

                  There seems to be a plethora of pan Asian restaurants and noodle bars that mix and match oriental cuisines from Japanese and Chinese to Thai with a bit of Malaysian or Vietnamese thrown in for good measure. Wagamama seems to be the granddaddy of them all but there are a number of mini chains in London that have sprang up in the past decade or so. The Hare and Tortoise is a particolar favourite but after reading a good review I decided to go somewhere different and try Dim T when my friend and I were having a girls night out catching up over a meal. HOISIN IN HAMPSTEAD There are five Dim T restaurants in total, four of them in London with a Winchester outpost. I went to the Hampstead branch, the others being in equally leafy Highgate, the West End just off Oxford Street and one by London Bridge. They serve a good cross section of oriental style food with a slight emphasis on Chinese dim sum and teas. It was fairly easy to find the Hampstead branch. It's on the right hand side of Heath Street if you are heading away from the heath. Its only a couple of minutes walk from the tube station on the Edgware branch of the Northern Line. My first impressions of the restaurant were very good. It seemed quite a small narrow restaurant with dark wooden furniture and chocolate brown comfortable leather sofas. On further inspection when heading downstairs to use the toilets I found there was a lot more seating on the level below. We arrived at around 6. 30 on a Tuesday evening and the restaurant seemed fairly quiet with only two or three tables already occupied. During our meal it became busier by the time we left about an hour and a half later all the upstairs tables had been taken. NOODLE DOODLE Dim T has a fairly extensive menu and there should be something for everyone as long as you vaguely like oriental style food. I was tempted by the sound of some of the Dim Sum especially that day's special black and white prawns or the prawn, crushed peanut and coriander dim sum for £3.60 a basket but in the end we decided to share a bowl of edamame beans which cost £4. At first I though this was a tad expensive but when the bowl came out it was a pretty big bowl and between us it made a nice healthy starter. As a non meat eater I was spoiled for choice. Main courses are divided into noodle bar, soup noodles, salads and specials and are all priced round about he £8 mark. You can have a choice of chicken, prawn tofu and some cases salmon or steak with most of the noodle and soup noddle dishes although there is a 95 pence supplement for the steak and salmon. It took us quite a while to decide on our mains, as there was plenty of choice. I was torn between three dishes. I loved the sound of the fire cracker prawns with chilli, ginger and cashew nuts and the Malaysian butternut squash curry also sounded very tempting but in the end I plumped for the sweet coconut noddles with prawns. My friend decided to be very healthy by going for the super food stir fry with salmon. This would be an ideal choice for those on a Atkins type diet, as it does not include noddles or rice but does include loads of different vegetables and cashew nuts in a light teriyaki sauce. I was tempted by the cocktails menu at about £6 for a cocktail but decided to be good and selected a ginger lemonade at £2.65 that sounded very refreshing whilst my friend chose the mint lemonade. Our starter and drinks arrived fairly promptly. I was disappointed that my lemonade was fizzy, as I was looking forward to more a homemade style still lemonade but it still had a decent kick from the ginger especially when you got near the bottom. My friend's mint one was very refreshing. TASTY THAI Our main courses also arrived pretty promptly. They were substantial but not huge. Both dishes were very tasty and I could not fault the freshness and crispness of the vegetables. My sweet coconut prawn noodles consisted of a bowl of flat, quite thick in width Japanese rice noodles smothered in the most heavenly, creamy but piquant from the lemon grass Thai style coconut sauce. It was the type of sauce that had me wanting to lick the bowl just to get the last few drops of the sauce. Lovely crunchy peppers carrots and delicious green bans accompanied this dish. Perhaps a few more prawns would not have gone amiss but they were far from absent, perhaps I' m just being greedy. All in all it was a very tasty dish. My friend's super food stir fry was also pretty nice. The chunks of salmon were substantial and there were enough cashew nuts as well as veg. TURNING JAPANESE After that feast we still had room for a dessert. We did not wan to pig out too much, just a little, so chose the chocolate sukiyaki, which is basically a chocolate fondue with tropical fruit (banana, lychee and pineapple) and marshmallows (my one fall down as I know they have gelatin in which I should not really have). I think we were kidding ourselves that the fruit would cancel out the chocolate and marshmallows. This was pretty tasty with a lovely rich chocolate sauce. We also ordered a pot of tea each. I had lemon grass and honey whilst my friend had fresh mint. The honey from the tea mixed really nice when scooping the remains of the chocolate from the fondue bowl. The lemon grass tea was a nice end to a very tasty meal especially when it had brewed fully. Our meal cost us £36 for a starter, two main courses two lemonades, a dessert and two pots of tea, which was not bad value at all really. We could have saved more if we had subscribed to their mailing list beforehand as there was an offer of £1 noodles if you bought a main course saving ourselves about £8. When the bill came I was impressed also liked the long slightly coconutty fortune cookies that came with the bill rather than mints presented in the bamboo baskets dim sum came in. it just gave it that final little touch to round off a good meal I liked the fact that service was not included on the bill as is so common nowadays. However I had no problem with leaving a tip , as i could not fault the service. I found the service to be very friendly and helpful giving advice when needed. It was the type of service where they were interested to know if you liked a dish but they were not too obtrusive so we could enjoy our meal fairly uninterrupted. I really enjoyed dining at Dim T with its fresh tasty food and look forward to going back either to the Hampstread branch or trying one of the other branches. www.dimt.co.uk

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                  • Babyliss Black Headband / Clothing / 40 Readings / 35 Ratings
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                    21.10.2011 12:19
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                    nice selection of hairbands

                    I have a very sleek chin length bob which suits my fine hair. The problem is its always falling in my face. My solution to this is an Alice Band to keep my hair neat. I bought this pack of three Babyliss black headbands in Boots for £3, which I thought this was good value for money especially since Babyliss is a brand name. I bought these because they would be suitable for work . The adult sized bands are horseshoe shaped and are made of durable black plastic. All the bands have little nobbles on the underside to give extra grip so they do not slip. Each of the bands are of different widths. There's a very thin one perhaps half an inch thick decorated with little rhinestones. I like this one for when I'm going out, as it brings a little bling to any outfit. There's a slightly thicker wiggly shaped band which gives a groovy effect to my hair The third one is my favourite and the one I wear most often. Its about two inches in width and has a beveled diamond pattern. I tend to wear this one the most often, as it is very simple and the most comfortable one in the pack. I find the thin rhinestone one digs in and hurts behind my ears if I wear it too long. I find with the thickest one I can wear it all day without this happening.

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                      08.10.2011 00:14
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                      a lovely smelling shower gel

                      J' Accuse Lush. Once upon a time ago a shower gel was a shower gel and simply washed whilst perhaps smelling nice. Nowadays its an invigorating, moisturising, exfoliating intoxicating experience all wrapped up so it look good enough to eat. Even good old Radox whose herbal gels have been around for donkey's years have jumped on the bandwagon with their smoothie range of shower gels. There's four heavenly sounding varieties to choose from in the range. Tropical Tranquility with coconut, almond and myrrh and Island Indulgence a very fruity papaya and passion fruit both sound delectable but I tend to opt for the one called Soul Soother to calm my my nerves after a manic day at work. SMOOTH YOUR TROUBLES AWAY Soul Soother is a lovely rich creamy shower gel containing chamomile, black currants and cranberry seeds. It comers in a 200 ml wedge shaped tube with a flip top lid at the bottom. One moan I have about this product is I wish it came in a larger size. I always seem to go through this like nobodies business. I don't think a bottle of this lasts longer than two weeks. Whilst not being ridiculously expensive I only tend to buy Radox Soul Soother when it is on special offer, as its normal price of around about £2.50 is just that little bit expensive for an every day shower gel especially when it goes so quickly. I think I paid about £1.30 for this bottle in Tescos a couple of weeks ago. VERY BERRY I never think of this gel as a smoothie but more of a berry flavourd yoghurt. I know this sounds a bit weird and disgusting but it really does with its delicate pearly pink colour and the little specks that are the cranberry seeds. The scent is very enticing , as soon as I flip the lid back I get a whiff of succulent sweat berries. Strangely enough for a chamomile and blackcurrant gel it reminds me more of a raspberry yoghurt!! The chamomile is very faint and in the background and the black currants must be mingling in with the cranberry seeds to give such an intoxicating scent. However if you smell it for longer the black currant becomes slightly more evident. The chamomile is an ideal base due to its herbal proprieties. Chamomile has two very useful properties. Firstly it is known as an enhancer for blond hair. I've not noticed the effect this shower gel has on my naturally blond body hair. I'd love to think it gives me pubic highlights!!. Second ally and more importantly for this gel its well known for its relaxing and calming proprieties, hence its use in herbal teas. I assume the cranberry seeds are there as a light exfoliant. HUBBLE BUBBLE The bottle is easy enough to squeeze to get just enough of the pink gel onto either your hand, sponge or net shower puff. Its not a bad consistency at all. It's not runny so you don't lose half of it down the plughole nor is it too sticky at all. It is best used with a net puff where it fluffs up to a lovely cloud of soft small but dense berry scented bubbles. The one problem of using a puff is that often the cranberry pips seem to remain on it and not on my body. This is no great loss, as they seem a bit soft to be a particularly effective exfoliant. I think I prefer almonds or sea salt if I want to have a decent scrub. The gel rinses fairly well with little residue leaving my skin, clean, fairly soft and smooth and with a hint of the lovely berry scent . It seems more apparent on some parts of my body than others. This seems to totally disappear within an hour of showering. Was my soul soothed. I would say yes , as the lovely berry scent gently massages my senses. I'm sure the chamomile plays it part. As well. This is a shower gel I love using due to its wonderful scent. However due to the size of the bottle and the cost of it especially full price this tends to to be a treat for me when I fancy a bit of shower TLC.

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                        30.08.2011 01:37
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                        Big wheel in Windsor

                        It seems you can't be a proper tourist destination these days without at least two of the following, an open top double decker bus, a river boat cruise or a Ferris wheel similar to the London Eye. Royal Windsor being an uber tourist destination has all three.. Is the latter the Royal Windsor Wheel I would like to review after stumbling across it on a day trip to this most royal of boroughs. WHEELY WINDSOR The London Eye's blue blooded smaller cousin may not look quite as impressive but looms high above Windsor's skyline not quite competing with the castle. It is located in Alexandria Gardens just a short walk from the River Thames, both Windsor railway stations and a stones throw from Windsor Castle itself. We rode the wheel on August Bank Holiday Sunday and thus were very lucky, as it is not a permanent fixture only gracing genteel Windsor in the summer months between May 13h and September 4th. One more week and we would have missed it. WHEELY REASONABLE The good thing about the Windsor Wheel is that it is pretty reasonable for a basic ticket. We paid £6 each for an adult ticket. It is only £5 for students an seniors and £4 for children. There's also group discounts and a family ticket for £18. For those who are organised there is a 10% discount on on line booking but even on the gate I thought it was a decent price. You would pay between £2 and £4 for an ordinary fairground ride and the mini golf next to the wheel was not a lot cheaper. Compare this with £18 for a standard ride on the London Eye and this is a steal. For those that want a more luxurious ride there are a number of different packages to choose from . You can reserve a private gondola for up to 6 people. This works out a pound cheaper if you have 6 adults but more costly with an other combination. When we were there it was not too busy and my fiancé and I managed to get a gondola to ourselves). Celebrating, why not hire a private gondola with champagne for £60 or it you wan to be very swanky hire the VIP gondola with its blacked out tinted windows for £45 for 4 people or £70 with champagne. Paying was very painless as there was no queue at the ticket booth so all there was to do was wait for our turn on the wheel. WHEELY HIGH I am not sure how busy it normally gets but I was surprised by how quiet it was that particular Sunday. There was virtually no queue and our wait was less than ten minutes until the ride that was happening at the time ended. This was a complete contrast to when we have walked past the London Eye and the queue seems to go on forever. Whilst witting we we had time to survey the magnificence of the wheel. Its 60 metre diameter (or 15 double decker buses stacked up in layman's terms ) pales in comparison with the London Eye's 135 metres. There's 40 gondolas including the aforementioned VIP one and one adapted for disabled access but very few of them seemed occupied. Just before we boarded our gondola for two, our photo was taken. I can not comment on the size, quality or price of the prints ready to pick up once you depart from the wheel, as we did not bother even investigating purchasing our souvenir photo. The cost would have bumped up our trip on a deal by quite a lot I should think. ONE WHEELY SCARED BLOKE i felt fairly safe on boarding the wheel. The gondola may have rocked a bit but the safety mechanisms for opening and closing the doors seem to be watertight. It was time to sit, back, relax and enjoy our 12 minute ride taking in four full revolutions of the Royal Windsor Wheel. There's a nice little introduction to the wheel before it informed you that you could either have a commentary with facts about Windsor or music from some radio station. I was dubious about the music so plumped for the sight seeing facts since we were tourists for the day. I found the facts to be fairly interesting and gave me a feel for the history and the sights of Windsor. We started off sitting on the right hand side of the gondola facing inwards. I would not recommend this if you are bit scared of heights (I would not recommend the wheel full stop if you are afraid of heights or get vertigo). My poor fiancée spent the first revolution with his eyes shut looking completely terrified especially when the wheel stopped to pick up more passengers and give us aerial views across Windsor and also when the wheel was going down. He seemed to calm down after the second one especially when we moved to the opposite side of the gondola. I mus admit even I a dare devil when it comes to rides felt my stomach disappear when we were making the descent on the first revolution. The main reason for ridding the wheel is for the views over Windsor. Its said on a clear day you can see Wembley Arches and Canary Wharf in the background. I think that is a slight exaggeration but there were stunning views and fiancée did spot the not so glamorous towers of Didcott Power Station in the distance. I had stunning aerial views over the river Thames and fabulous views of Windsor Castle. However these must pale in comparison with the London Eye which I have not yet experienced even though I've lived in London for over five years now. There's only limited scope for spotting particular buildings, as the only real landmarks are those castle, the Thames and Eton College. I don't think Windsor Coach Park could be described as a tourist attraction. I really enjoyed my ride on the Windsor Wheel. I had been on a similar one in in Manchester which perhaps had more attraction, as I knew the city better and again there were more landmarks to spot. Its not the type of attraction you would make a special trip to unless you lived particularly local but it was a nice little diversion for half n hour. It was a good dress rehearsal if I ever wanted to go on the London Eye but I doubt I will take my fiancé! http://www.mellorsgroup.com/Windsor-Wheel/

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                          25.08.2011 20:45
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                          regency chick lit

                          Two hundred years on Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen are still seen as the ultimate chick lit novels so it is understandable why modern authors would like to emulate her success by setting their writing in the Regency period. American author Julia Quinn is one such author with a back cataloge of Regency romantic comedies such as "the Duke and I and "The Viscount who Loved Me" . I came across her when a friend lent me the subject of this review "The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever" At 10 years old the ugly duckling Miranda fell in love for the first time at her best friend Olivia' Bevelstoke 's birthday party. Her schoolgirl crush is on her best friend's older brother the dashingly handsome Turner (real name the not so romantic Nigel) when he comforts her after she is taunted by another girl by telling her "One day she will be as beautiful as she is clever". Fast forward eight year to Miranda and Olivia reaching adulthood and preparing to make their debuts at their first London season. Meanwhile Turner has been released from a marriage full of betrayal when his first wife dies. Can turner love again after beieng cuckolded and betrayed? "Is the adult Miranda as beautiful as she is clever? So sets the scone for a will they won't they Regency love story. I was initially disappointed with "The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever" as I had expected the narrative of the whole book to be told in diary form. Instead it is told in the third person with an omniscient narrator so the story could switch back and forth to the viewpoints of the main characters very easily. There are snippets of diary entries from Miranda especially at the end of the chapters. These were very enjoyable to read , as Miranda is actually a very likable, at times quite witty character and wish there were more of them. She reminded me a lot of Jo March from "Little Women" with her chestnut hair, long coltish figure and independent pronto feminist feisty spirit. If Miranda is Jo then Olivia is certainly Amy with her beauty and slightly spoiled, behaviour. The Little Women comparisions does not continue with the hero of the book Turner, as he is a mix of all the romantic heroes from female created literature from Mr Darcy to Mr Rochester and Heathcliffe rolled into one but is blond rather than being tall dark rugged and handsome! As I have already noted the writing could be quite witty in places. There is one chapter in particular where Miranda wants to buy a particular book from a gentleman's bookshop and is refused because of her gender. This chapter is the stuff of high farce and had me in stitches. However on the whole I referred to "The Secret Daries of Miranda Cheever" as my little bit of frippery because the plot is as flimsy as a Regency gown. It is chick lit and there is a lot of boy meets girl and then they argue a lot and can't make up their minds about each other even though you know they are both infatuated with each other so try and avoid each other but bump into each other. I found that tiresome at times especially during the first half of the book and I almost gave u , as I go bored by the repetitiveness of the see through plot but luckily the second half was slightly more griping with a few false twists and turns. the paperback is 352 pages and it could easily have been 50 pages shorter. My other main problem with the writing of the book was the very corny and downright embarrassing language used to describe the love scenes. There were invasions and the 2natural manliness of Turner" . Then again in places it read like a slightly milder version of a women's erotic novel such as Black Lace and I must admit getting a bit hot under the collar and embarrassed at reading the love scenes in public. Quinn specialises in light Regency romances and to her credit she seems to have done her research pretty well and got the period details right from the fashion to it taking a number of days to get from Edinburgh to London. I was not sure whether the word brat was appropriate but apparently it dates from medieval' English and was not sure about the name Fiona being used , as I thought that was a more modern name (The character in question is Fiona Bennett so a bit too close to Austen for comfort). On the whole "the Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever" was not dreadful but it did drag in places and was pretty formulaic. I would certainly recommend it to those who like the idea of Jane Austen novels and the romance of the |Regency period but do no have the time, or patience to read Austen herself (I must admit I read half of Northanger Abbey then gave up.). Wold I pick up another Julia Quinn novel? Only if I saw one in a charity shop, library or car boot sale or the like. I would not be going out of my way to buy one new , as Miranda was a nice light fluffy novel but pretty average really. Available at Amazon for £6.39

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                            20.08.2011 01:12
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                            cosey Cotswolds B and B

                            The epitome of rural English cosiness must surely be the Cotswolds. When I think of i, chocolate box villages and stunning scenery spring to mind alongside very cosy comfortable hotels and bed and breakfasts. My fiance, his family and I recently attended a wedding in the Cotswolds and luckily for us the B and b we stayed at for to nights lived up to our expectations. This was Hooly House in the very picturesque ton of Bourton on the Water. We really had a lovely stay at this comfortable guest house. Holly House is quite a small intimate B and B with six comfortable bedrooms housed in a lovely Cotswolds stone detached house. Its owned and run by David Clark and Jane Conroy who take great pride in the running of this delightful four star establishment. And it was a pleasure to stay there as it felt like a home from home. I did not actually book the B and B so can not comment on the ease of booking but I have looked at the website and it looks easy to book on line. Rooms vary between £70 and £85 per night which whilst not cheap sounds about right for such a popular and touristy area. At the moment they do special rates for last minute rooms in August during the week. OUR WARM WELCOME If you are looking for a B and B right in the centre of Bourton Holly House may not be the one for you. It's located on a main road, Station Road on the outskirts of Bourton but do not worry its only a five minute walk to the centre of the village. Its fairly easy to find once you get onto the right road. For those arriving by car there's enough parking for one car per room. On arrival we were warmly greeted by Jane who showed us around the property and the rooms we had booked. We were also offered a complimentary welcome drink of wine or something soft once we had settled in. I thought that this was a really nice thoughtful touch. Throughout our stay I found the service to be friendly and personable. They seemed genuinely interested in the wedding we were attending. I was also impressed they remembered everyone's order for breakfast and asked if we wanted the same one the next day. STAYING AT Holly House The bedrooms at Holly House are named rather than numbered. I liked this touch, as it felt a bit more individual and boutique like. We had booked the Naunton, Bourton and Sherbourne rooms which were all double rooms with an en suite shower room. The other three rooms in the property consist of two twin rooms and the Windrush which is the biggest room in the house with a bath rather than a shower and a king sized bed. All the bedrooms are located on the first and second floors of th house. There's no lift and the stairs especially between the first and second floor are quite steep so I would not recommend Holly House for those with a disability. The other thing to note is that they do not accommodate children under 12 so is not one for families. . In a way I quite like this, as it means there are no screaming children running around when you are trying to have a quiet breakfast. For this reason I would especially recommend Holly House to those looking for a quiet romantic break away. However it meant that my fiance's brother who has an 18 month old was not able to book in with us and had to find alternative accommodation. "NAUTON ROOM Our room the Naunton was on the second floor. The first thing to remember was not to trip down the step immediately in front of the door when you enter the room. Once in we were greeted by a very clean, pleasantly decorated, reasonably spacious bedroom. . It was quite neutral with magnolia walls and white bedding but it did have lovely gold and brown cushions and a gold runner on the bed. The carpet was a terracotta colour. There was enough room to walk around the room without the furniture being too cramped and packed in together. The furniture was all light pines and fitted in with the country feel, as did the two wicker chairs. There was adequate storage space comprising of a chest of drawers that double up as a dressing table and a very homely looking wardrobe unit with one tall cupboard, drawers and hanging space concealed behind a curtained glazed panel. The only problem with the room was that there was nowhere to hang anything very long inside the wardrobe, as there was a bar in the middle of it. My fiance ended up hanging his suit for the wedding behind the room's door. What we did find when looking for decent hanging space was a mini ironing board and iron hidden in the wardrobe. Next to th wardrobe there was a table containing the hospitality tray with a nice selection of coffee, tea and hot chocolate and some fancy biscuits. On the downside there was not any fresh milk in the mini fridge underneath the table, as advertised on the website. Instead there was just the normal little cartons of UHT milk. There were two cups but my fiance's mum felt they could have supplied mugs, as some of the sachets could not be easily contained in one small teacup. The other nice touch in the room was a couple of bottles of mineral water just in case you got thirsty in the middle of th night. In room entertainment comes courtesy of a portable TV on a bracket on the wall. Its ye olde world , as its only got four channels because freeview is not easily received in this part of the country. I was not too disappointed, as we only had the tv on ion the background and for the all important football scores late on the Saturday evening. Luckily wi fi is available and is free of charge throughout the building. SPLISH SPLASH To your left when entering the room is the bathroom. Its not a bad size at all and like the bedroom was spotlessly clean (although finance's mum felt the shower head on her room could have done with a descale!!). The shower was a nice big corner one and was very powerful. It was a joy to shower in it. Hanging on the towel rack were four white fairly soft towels. I liked the little details in the bathroom from the print hanging on the wall to the little duck on the end of the pull cord for the light. I especially liked the Kinu toiletries in their holder which reminded me of a test tube rack in a science lab. It looked funky, modern and luxurious. Our room overlooked the side of the house so we could see the open countryside of the Cotswolds. There must have been horses nearby, as we heard them whinnying one morning. Luckily that was all we heard so we were able to have a peaceful uninterrupted sleep. I found the temperature to be reasonable so no lying awake in an overheated room. The bed was quite high and at first I found it a bit hard but then got used to it. I slept like a log both nights. The other bedrooms were similarity tastefully decorated. The Bourton room's colour scheme was g white and burgundy whilst the Sherbourne had a beautiful turquoise Chinese style duvet cover . If I had not purchased bedding recently I would have been very tempted to ask them where they bought it. BREAKFAST TIME Downstairs there is a small lounge or guests to use. We found this handy for meeting in before going out. Adjacent to this is the breakfast room housed in a very light and airy conservatory. There was a choice of coffee tea or hot chocolate to drink. . On the first day those that had coffee chose to have it with cream for a little bit of luxury. The cold breakfast items were presented on the shelves of a pine dresser where we could help ourselves. There were mini boxes of cereal, yoghurts and a variety of fresh fruit and mixed nuts. Also on the dresser was the orange juice. The hot breakfast selection is just as good. On the first day I ordered a vegetarian breakfast and was delighted to find there were vegetarian sausages, as they were not listed on the menu. I was very pleased, as they were the potato and stuffing type sausage rather than the ubiquitous Quorn. Fiance was happy, as there was black pudding with the full English, again tis was not listed on the menu. For th second morning I preordered kippers for breakfast, as these need to be ordered the day before. It was nice to have something different for a hot breakfast although the landlady found it weird I wanted then with baked beans and eggs!! Competition in this sector must be high due to the number of establishments catering for a vast number of guests. I am glad to say Holly House can stand it own amongst this competition, as it was a pleasure to stay at this cosy home from home in the heart of the Cotswolds. http://www.hollyhousebourton.co.uk/ Holly House B & B Station Road Bourton-on-the-Water Gloucestershire GL54 2ER 01451 821302

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                            • Getting Engaged / Discussion / 44 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                              17.08.2011 21:56
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                              My tale

                              There are many milestones we pass on our journey through life. Birth, first steps, first day at school, first job, first car, engagement, marriage, children, retirement et al. Some are fixed whilst some come sooner for some than others and some do not come at all. I've recently hit one of the big milestones in life perhaps a tad later than most of my peers and I'd like to share it with you all. The milestone I recently reached and celebrated was becoming engaged to my lovely then boyfriend now finance M/ I am an old fashioned romantic at heart and certainly believe in marriage especially since my parents have been married 40 years this year. I must admit I have always dreamed of a marriage proposal and for ages felt it would never happen to me , as my last long term boyfriend did not believe in marriage. I know getting engaged and married is not for everyone Some think it is outdated and old fashioned and there are plenty of people who are happy as they are and do not want the expense or the hassle of a wedding just to prove their love. Its only a piece of paper I have heard many people say but deep down I know it has always been important to me as long as it was with the right person. I maybe an old romantic but I am not keen on clinches. Being whisked away to Paris to have your man propose at th top of the Eiffel Tower or perhaps being serenaded by a gondola might be nice but not entirely original. I would bracket them with a dozen rd roses, as being flashy but just a bit boring. To me a true romantic proposal should be one that is personal and mean something to the two of you. I would also say only do it if you both feel ready for it. There's no point in getting engaged just because everyone else is doing it or you have been together x number of years if your heart is not in it. "Just 20,000 people standing in a field? " M and I met two year ago on a dating website and we bonded over a love of Britpop and indie music. So when Pulp announced they were getting back together to play Hyde Park on July 3 2011 I bought tickets for us for M's Christmas present. The day in question arrived. It was a lovely sunny day and we were in high spirits looking forward to singing along to all our old Pulp favourites. The Hives really helped lift the mood with their bouncy songs and theatrical show As the day wore on we got into position for a fairly decent view of Pulp. Whilst waiting we marveled at Grace Jones managing to keep a hula hoop going throughout the whole of "Slave to the Rhythm" . By the time Pulp came on at around 9 o clock the frenzied anticipation really created a fantastic atmosphere. The band burst on stage with "Do You Remember the First Time" and from then on we were hooked by Jarvis's charisma, his witty observations between songs and the set of wall to wall hits. "Martin Said you were the Best" Halfway through the set the band played "Something Cchanged" which is a special song for us because it reminds us of when we first dating seriously. I remember just feeling so close to M whilst we danced and kissed in a little world of our own. It just felt so nice and so special. I almost wanted to cry with joy, as it was just such a magical song. "Something Changed " finished and Jarvis mentioned something about a couple getting engaged at their recent Barcelona gig before launching into "Disco 2000". We were dancing away when I thought I saw M fall. I was worried hoping he had not been pushed by the jostling crowd but the next thing I knew he was down on one knee asking me to marry him. I was in shock about this happening even though we had discussed the possibility of getting engaged before. Once I realised what he was asking I said yes! The one thing that clearly stands out in my mind about it ll was the reaction of the crowd surrounding us. I There was a giddy atmosphere as everyone clambered around congratulating us with loads of hugs and hand shakes. The response from strangers was just so nice. I do not remember the rest of the concert in great detail. It was just a blur . We had lost our friends and although I was enjoying the gig I was feeling a bit sick and just wanted to get out and scream and shout. M had wanted to ask my dad for my hand in marriage before he proposed but it was such a spur of the moment thing he asked him when we phoned my parents , as soon as we could find a quiet place after the gig. I just remember going home in a daze wondering if it really happened, as it all felt so surreal. We decided to tell our nearest and dearest early on but keep it low key. M's brother was getting married mid August so felt it was not right to make a big deal straight away. We did not want to steal their thunder so agreed not to announce it to the world until after my future brother in law's wedding. You'll be wanting to know about the ring but I'll have to disappoint you, as I have not got one yet. It should be coming sooner or later even if I get it for Christmas. I do look at my wedding ring finger and feel likeIi have an invisible ring there. I am really enjoying being engaged and saying my fiance although I do forget and still occasionally say boyfriend! I'm not sure how long our engagement will be. At the moment we are in the early stages of bouncing ideas off each other and researching possible venues. We could marry in Reading or in Scotland we are not sure yet. We do need a bit of time to deal with a few important issues such as moving in together. This will also give us time to save up, as weddings do not come cheep. We are looking at autumn 2012 at the very earliest to anytime during the summer of 2013. We don't know yet and we still need to meet with my parents which we will do in October. Whatever happens I am so looking forward to spending the rest of my life with my gorgeous fiancé and becoming Mrs M. Update. I've now got a very beautiful 9 carat white gold ring with aa cluster of diamonds set in a very simple square

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                                06.08.2011 14:58
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                                average Italian

                                In London you are spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants with some cuisines represented more than others. Italians are ten a penny with competition so fierce I would expect an Italian in central London to really pull out all the stops. But that is not always the case as I experienced recently at Cafe Pasta in Garrick Street, Covent Garden. My friend and I were having a midweek girly catch up and were looking for somewhere to have a bite to eat that was fairly reasonable and was not one of the major chains. Cafe Pasta seemed to tick all of the boxes. Located on the corner of Garrick Street Cafe Pasta has a prime West End position. Its just a short stroll from Covent Garden Piazza, Leicester Square and a number of the major West End theatres We came across it by chance when we were just having a wander to find somewhere to eat. Its not strictly an independent, as its part of a mini chain with three restaurants in London and one in Stratford Upon Avon. The restaurant is medium sized situated mostly in the basement of the building with six or seven tables on the ground floor. After perusing the reasonably sized menu outside we ventured inside and downstairs to the main restaurant which seemed very busy. We were immediately sent back upstairs to one of the last available tables very near the door. In a way this was a nice table to have, as it was light and airy and we could easily people watch. I would love to describe to you in detail the décor and style of the restaurant but I am afraid the décor was so innocuous I barely remembered what the restaurant looked like the day after. I have a vaguer memory of dark wood and cream walls but that is about it. It is certainly very cosy upstairs, as th tables seemed very close together. I don't think this restaurant is particularly suited to those with mobility problems due to the steep stairs to the min restaurant and I think that was where the toilets were but can't be sure as i did not use them. The main reason why we chose the restaurant was we particularity liked the menu. It was a reasonable length with enough choice but not too extensive for it to be over the top. There was a nice balance of familiar old favourite dishes such as margarita pizza, spaghetti bolognase and carbonara alongside some more interesting combinations. Vegetarians are well catered for with 4 out of the 12 pasta and risottos being vegie and half of the pizzas. Prices are competitive with other Italian restaurant starters around the £4-£5 mark, pizzas between £7 and £10 and pastas roughly about £8 or £9 apart from the seafood options which are slightly dearer. Meat and seafood courses tend to be around the £14 mark. There is a separate children's menu and also lunch and pre theatre deals. We decided to share some ciabatta to start with and I went for the asparagus and ricotta ravioli whilst my friend went for Margarita pizza. I decided to wash this down with a glass of fresh mint lemonade.. Whilst ordering I was not happy that the waiter was trying to get us to order extra things. He commented that the garlic bread was nicer and also asked us both if we wanted a side salad. If we wanted one we would have ordered one in the first place. Our drinks came promptly a couple of minutes later. I have to hand it to them Cafe Pasta do a very nice lemonade. It had plenty of fresh lemon and mint and the flavours balanced and combined to make a sweet but sharp very refreshing drink. About ten minutes later our main courses arrived before our starter did. Our ciabatta was conspicuous by its absent. We asked where our start was and then told them to forget it. Only or it to appear five minutes later hen we had started tucking into our mains. The ciabatta was nicely crispy on the outside and wonderfully doughty in the middle. There was a nice balsamic vinegar dip to go with it. I found the ciabatta to be useful for mopping up the tomato and a tiny bit of basil sauce that my ravioli came in. My ravioli looked very attractive with about seven or eight fat circular pasta parcels. Unfortunately the taste did not live up their appearance. I played a game of spot the asparagus, as I found the parcels to be very low on asparagus. I was not that impressed with the texture of the ravioli as it was very claggy and I found that even with a large dose of black pepper and Parmesan my dish was still pretty bland. My friend said her Margarita was nice but she had better. The desserts were your usual suspects with homemade tiramasu, chocolate fudge cake and various ice creams and sorbets all around about £5 (the ice crams perhaps a pound cheaper), The table next to us had a berry topped waffle and that did look tempting but knowing us we would get the completely wrong order. So we decided to go straight for the bill. The waiting staff seemed pretty rushed off their feet and a bit disorganised. Two separate people asked us if we would like dessert menus an then it took us four attempts to get the bill. My friend heard the people on the table next to us laugh after the fourth exasperated attempt to get the bill. Luckily there was no service charge added on like in a lot of restaurants in London, as we would have refused to have paid it. I normally leave some sort of tip but due to the ciabatta incident we decided to forgo the tip and just pay the £21.40 bill for one drink two mains and that famous ciabatta.. According to their website Cafe Pasta has been around for 25 years and I am sure they will be around for another 25, as they are in a prime location and there will always be a large number of hungry diners through their doors. Whether they get repeat business I am not sure. I will not be going back , as there are so many restaurants in that area I am not going to put up with average food and farcical service. Cafe Pasta, 2-4 Garrick Street, London WC2E 9BH (map) Telephone: 020 7497 2779 Email: garrick@cafepasta.co.uk http://www.cafe-pasta.co.uk/

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                                  27.07.2011 18:12
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                                  creamy coconut yogurt

                                  When it comes to yoghurt, mousses and other little pots of yummy desserts I try to be fairly sensible and purchase lower fat varieties. However sometimes I like to push the boat out and get something a bit more decadent especially if I want to treat myself. . When I am in the mood for treating myself one product I have bought a fair few times is Yoplait Perle De Lait Coconut. I SHOULD COCO Made in France by Yoplait Perle De Lait is their range of luxury premium yoghurt's. They come in packs of four 125 ml pots and are available in a rang of flavours including toffee, mango and passion fruit, strawberry and lemon. I have not seen all the flavours in the supermarket and have only so far tried the coconut variety. It would be really nice if they did a variety pack soI could try the other flavours. I have heard that the lemon one is also very tasty. Perle De lait is widely available in most larger supermarkets. It is a product I only tend to purchase when they are on offer or for a treat, as I find the normal price of £1.99 for a four peak to be slightly too expensive for an everyday dessert. I bought my latest batch in Tesco when they were reduced by 50 pence to £1.49. The pot size at 125 ml is just about the right size, as its not too small that you are thinking is that it and any more such as a Muller Light size and it would be sheer piggishness.| TOTALLY TROPICAL TASTE The dessert is a lovely creamy white, thick ,smoothish yoghurt with little specks and shards of coconut. I like the consistency of the yoghurt, as it is thick enough not to easily drip when you scoop it up with your spoon . The scent is also very appealing, as it is identifiable as a natural coconut scent with just a touch of sweetness an a bit of a the tang from the yoghurt. I love the taste an the feel of the yoghurt as it coats my mouth with is luscious texture. IIt is just so rich and creamy no doubt due to cream being the second top ingredient. Coconut (both coconut milk and shredded coconut) is the next most prevalent trident coming in at 5.2% of the total product. The coconut milk must add to the divine velvety texture whilst the little bits of shredded coconut just gives the dessert a little bit of bite. Its a nicely balanced flavour and taste rather natural. It does not seem too sweet a dessert although sugar is the fourth ingredient at 4.4% plus glucose-fructose syrup which is another form of sugar. So unfortunately these are quite high in sugars with 9.1 grams in each 100 grams of the dessert. The good news is there is no pesky gelatine used as a thickener so Perle De Lait is suitable for vegetarians. The bad news is that they are not a dieters best friend , as they contain a whopping 9.8 grams of fat with most of it being saturated fat (6.8 grams per 100 grams). There's also 188 calories in each pot so they are far from saintly compared to other yoghurt's but they must be naughty , as they taste so nice! If you are a bit nutty about coconut flavoured things and not so worried about your weight I would certainly recommend Yoplait Perle De Lait coconut and on the basis of the texture I would like try the other flavours especially if they are on special offer.

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